Adjusting to Kenya was harder for me than I first expected. The adjustment to everything; the culture, the people, the language, was difficult, but also the seperation from everything familiar. It's not that I didn't want to be here, I did, but it was still hard.
When Dad first told us about his idea to move to Kenya, all of us kids were on board immediately. I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting when I said I wanted to go. I guess I was thinking more on the lines of adventure, new places, travelling, and excitement. I wasn't thinking at all about the negative aspects of it. I didn't think at all of the sacrifices that moving to a third world country would entail. About a week before we left though, I began to realize a little more what was going to happen to us. We were leaving our brothers behind. We were leaving our family behind. We were leaving everything familiar behind.
Reed and I packed and ready to go.
Still, I was caught up in the excitement of it and didn't allow myself to dwell on it too much. We were too busy anyway with packing everything we needed, selling everything we didn't, and getting all of the other stuff ready. Even when we were on the plane I didn't fully comprehend what we had done. When we landed we were busy looking at our new surroundings, getting settled in, and meeting the people.
I didn't realize until maybe two weeks later. Suddenly, I missed my brothers so much, but in different ways. Cory had already moved out, so we didn't see him as often before. I still missed him, but it didn't affect me as much. Quinn had already been gone as well, but we saw him more and we were closer to him, so I felt it more.
Kyle was different. I always felt closer to him than I did the rest so leaving him behind hit me hard. I'm sure the other kids missed him too, but it was different for me. Because of our circumstances, we understood each other better than the rest did. We had gone through the same problems together. I tried to help him all I could, I would defend him whenever I thought it was necessary, and, in a way, I felt responsible for him even though he was nearly two years older than me.
After I cried a few times, I thought I had moved on and accepted the fact that they were in America and we were in Kenya, but I guess I didn't. As time went on, I began to slowly feel angry that we had moved. I was angry that everything had changed. I was angry about the food. I was angry about the people being so different from us. I was angry that our family didn't spend as much time together.
Soon those feelings turned to guilt. What Christian thought that way? What Christian felt the feelings that I was having? Was I a Christian then? Because I felt so guilty for having these feelings when everyone else seemed to be doing fine, I didn't want to share them with anybody. Because I held it all in, I journaled a lot. Looking back on those entries, I sounded pitiful! They're full of complaints to God asking Him why I felt so alone. Why didn't I feel happy anymore? Why did I feel discontented?
It got so bad that I found it was difficult for me to read the Bible or even pray. I thought I wanted to do those things, but when it came down to it, I couldn't. I couldn't focus on what I was reading. I would start in 1 Corinthians and by the time I came to verse 5 of the first chapter, I was already completely distracted and would just quit. When I tried to pray, I would get to Dear Lord, then wouldn't be able to say anything after that. It felt as though He wasn't listening to me, but I am sure it was all me. I wasn't really trying then. I am not sure why I felt that way. Maybe I was trying to ignore the problem or maybe I was disappointed in God for leaving me. I didn't want to face the fact that if anyone was being disappointing, it was me.
I realized that I was holding onto the past. I kept looking back wishing that I could live in those times again. I kept thinking about how I missed family trips to the zoo, or going to the store with Mom, or going thrift store shopping, or eating at Jason's Deli. I missed family outings together. I missed good food. I missed American convenience. I wasn't thinking about our lives in the here and now and all the new memories to be made. I wasn't allowing change.
I was also still thinking about my brothers. I missed them, I worried about them, and I still wanted to help them, mainly Kyle. I still felt responsible for him and wanted to keep him from making mistakes as I tried to do when we were younger. I didn't want to let go.
One day it hit me. I couldn't help him. (I'm sure you're thinking, duh!) I couldn't help any of them. My worrying and my holding on wasn't doing anyone any good. They weren't being helped at all and it was only hurting me. Another big moment was when I realized: God didn't need me. God didn't need my help to protect and watch over my brothers. God didn't need me to keep them from making mistakes. God can do all of that just fine on His own. He has His own plan and if I'm a part of that, then great, but if not, He knows best. I had to let go.
After I realized this, I got better slowly. I began praying more (I was able to get past Dear Lord then!). I began reading the Bible every day. Of course, I'm still learning. I find myself still worrying. I guess I always will because I love my brothers and I suppose that's just part of it, but I try not to obsess as I did before. But trusting God to care, watch over, and protect them helps a lot. It also helped me to accept our lives here more.
I've come to understand that, no matter how much I miss our old lives in America, I wouldn't change our lives here. I wouldn't give up hearing Robai read for the first time. I wouldn't give up seeing two year old Joy first begin walking. I wouldn't give up seeing Griffin, who had jiggers so bad he could barely walk, run and play football. I wouldn't give up seeing Sylivia, who when she first came was so weak she had to lean on someone to walk, play Chako (similar to jump rope) with the other girls. I wouldn't give up seeing the kids at Mercy Christian Academy walk proudly through the gate in their new uniforms. This life here may be hard, frustrating, and difficult sometimes, but I still love it.
I am still learning and adjusting even after nearly three years of living here. I still miss some of our life back in America. I still miss Kyle, Cory, and Quinn. I still don't understand everything about Kenya. I still don't even know Swahili that well! But I have learned to love a lot about this place and wouldn't change living here.